Evolution News

“Living fossil” eel survives from 200 million years ago

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In “New Pacific eel is a ‘living fossil’, scientists say” (BBC News, August 16, 2011), Paul Rincon tells us,

The US-Palauan-Japanese team say the eel’s features suggest it has a long and independent evolutionary history stretching back 200m years.

“In some features it is more primitive than recent eels, and in others, even more primitive than the oldest known fossil eels, suggesting that it represents a ‘living fossil’ without a known fossil record,” write the scientists.

See also:

Living fossil birch mouse

Spider in amber is 49 million-year-old member of living genus

Life forms that never change are telling us something about evolution. Why avoid it?, David Tyler asks

Is ”living fossils“ an apt term?

8 Replies to ““Living fossil” eel survives from 200 million years ago

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    It’s those faulty designs again.

  2. 2
    PaV says:

    If this is “proto” eel, then where are its intermediates?

    According to Darwin, there shouldn’t be a first, there should be a bush-like taxonomic structure. You remember, the “tree of life”. Of course, if you look at it, it doesn’t look like a tree; it looks like a bush.

    Ah, but Darwin was such a smart guy.

  3. 3
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    “If this is “proto” eel, then where are its intermediates?”

    Classic creationist argument: every intermediate makes the case for evolution worse, since it creates two new gaps!

  4. 4
    Querius says:

    So if Haldane’s fossilized rabbit was ever found in the Precambrian, rabbits would simply be classified as “living fossils,” and thus would pose no challenge to scientific thinking regarding evolutionary processes. Easy explanation. Move along, nothing to see here.

    Instead, the existence of this hypothetical fossil would simply be proof that this type of rabbit was part of an isolated population that wasn’t challenged by normal environmental pressures, and that rabbits obviously evolved much earlier than previously thought. Haldane had nothing to worry about.

    But it gets even better! I just realized that my fingernails are actually *primitive claws*, which means that I have both advanced and primitive features, proving that humans are also living fossils! 😉

    Don’t get excited, I know that I’m exaggerating mightily.

  5. 5
    Prof. FX Gumby says:

    Is ”living fossils“ an apt term?

    No. It’s journalistic shorthand. Using it as a basis to attack evolutionary theory is like using bananas to attack a regiment of crack soldiers.

  6. 6
    Ilion says:

    Ah! So Darwinism is like soldiers on crack?

  7. 7

    “Living fossil” is a terrible term. There are, obviously, no living fossils, and not only that, but modern organisms that more closely resemble their fossilized forbears than other extant organisms do are just as “evolved”, as the molecular record shows.

    Darwinian processes move a population towards a local optimum and keep it there. Subpopulations may find new niches, but if the old niche remains, there’s no good reason to expect that one lineage won’t remain in it. But it has to keep running to stay in the same place though, which is why “molecular clocks” will give you the same age for both modern populations that have remained in the same niche as in populations that have moved to new niches.

    Which is why they aren’t “living fossils”. They are just modern populations that haven’t moved very far from their roots.

  8. 8
    Querius says:

    Yes, I agree.

    So, considering the evidence available, why couldn’t Mary Schweitzer’s T.rex have been a relatively recently expired “living fossil”? Wouldn’t this be the most reasonable explanation that doesn’t rely on some heretofore unknown cause?

    Instead, comments by paleontologists, Dr. Schweitzer included, consistently presuppose that this T.rex *must* be 70 million years old. They speculate about some hypothetical property of dinosaur bone, or some mysterious special conditions to explain the preservation of the soft tissue. Why don’t they consider any the possibility that this T.rex is much younger, especially in light of the observed existence of other “living fossils”?

    I’m just asking.

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